SMEs need help to go green

Almost three-quarters of small businesses rate reducing their environmental impact as important but four in ten say the need practical help to take action while one in six have no idea where to turn for assistance.

These are the findings of a survey conducted on behalf of Government-backed green group Envirowise by Ipsos MORI. On the back of these figures, Dr Martin Gibson, programme director for Envirowise, is calling for groups such as Environment Agency, local authorities, trade associations and other business support organisations to work together to provide support and information for small firms wishing to reduce waste.

‘This new research has demonstrated that even when the good intention is there, some businesses still don’t know where to turn for help – which is shocking given the support networks available,’ says Dr Gibson. ‘Our concern is that the business imperative for action is being lost amidst the growing haze of environmental news and debate.’

Of particular concern is the current drought sweeping the UK. Envirowise is urging companies to log on to its free, online Water Account Tool. This helps to track how much water is being used, benchmark companies against their competitors and offers links to free advice on reducing water use and cutting costs.

‘It is the responsibility of all of us to do whatever we can to use water sensibly and reduce unnecessary waste, not just in times of drought, but as part of a sustainable approach to our environment and our long-term planning,’ says Environment minister Ian Pearson. ‘That includes the business community as well as households and water companies.’

For office-based businesses, Envirowise has released a free CD-ROM toolkit, The Green Officiency CD-ROM, that provides a step-by-step guide to help reduce waste and the use of resources such as paper, water and energy. A savings calculator establishes just how much an individual company could potentially save – as much as £200 per employee.

See also: Where to find green small business grants

Leading the way

When it comes to environmentally friendly business practice, small businesses are leading the way, according to a poll conducted by BT Tradespace.

It found they were more likely to use technology such as video or telephone conferencing instead of asking employees to travel to meetings, as well as encouraging staff to leave their cars at home.

Of the 136 businesses taking part in the poll, a quarter were found to be helping the environment through clamping down on commuting, with another 25 per cent implementing recycling at work and 17 per cent reducing their energy use.

Only two per cent surveyed were found to be doing nothing at all to help the environment.

Jennifer Mowat, director of BT Tradespace, says: ‘Companies can help the environment in many ways, and the size of SMEs allows them to be more flexible in adopting new work patterns.’

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Green business